Is irrigation still a man’s world?

An account on women’s participation in PIM (Participatory Irrigation Management)

Representational Image. Courtesy: SPS Community Media

Even though women make up a significant proportion of the farmers in India, mainstreaming gender concerns in the domain of irrigation in agriculture seems to be a vision of a distant future. Involving women in irrigation projects is popularly equated with increasing their numbers in the Water User Associations (WUAs), and as many studies point out, their participation has largely remained tokenistic. Women’s participation and representation have continued to remain skewed in irrigation management and various other domains of natural resource management. Yet one can see that women’s relationship with water runs deep as in a majority of households the collection of drinking water is still considered a woman’s duty. To understand the gender realities in irrigation, and make sense of women’s participation on ground, I undertook my fieldwork, in one of the states implementing the Participatory Irrigation Management Act- Madhya Pradesh.

A brief history of PIM